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  • Mayor's staff tells appellant: You can't use Council chamber audiovisual equipment at hearing on Scherer Park police stn;
  • City Att'y Shannon issues memo (we post verbatim) saying he's previously advised "the decision is within the discretion of the Mayor/City Council"
  • Shannon's memo says if appellants can't use the equipment in the hearing, neither can city staff
  • Baker, not O'Neill, scheduled to preside at hearing
    [ disclosure: Publisher Bill Pearl was part of a committee of LB activists that asked Councilmembers over a year ago to restore the public's ability to use the Council chamber's audiovisual equipment. This had been allowed under former Mayor Ernie Kell.]

    (July 11, 2001) -- Mayor Beverly O'Neill's office has told Stop Taking Our Parks president Gigi "Fast Elk" Porter that under the incumbent Mayor's policy (allowed by the City Council), Ms. Porter will not be permitted to use the Council chamber's audiovisual equipment at a crucial July 17 Council hearing on whether to take 2.5 acres of Scherer Park land for a LB north division police station.

    Shortly thereafter, City Attorney Robert Shannon sent a memo to the Mayor and City Council (provided to us by the City Attorney's office on request; full text posted below) that says his office has previously advised that "the decision [on use of audiovisual equipment] is within the discretion of the Mayor/City Council."

    The memo concludes that for due process reasons in the hearing, since [under the Mayor's policy] the appellants can't use the audiovisual equipment, city staff won't be able to do so in the hearing either.

    Councilmembers are now confronted with a threshold question: will they allow a member of the public to use audiovisual equipment that the public paid for?

    The LB Municipal Code is silent on the public's use of the audioviusal equipment. Former Mayor Ernie Kell allowed it with Council approval. Incumbent Mayor Beverly O'Neill has refused it with Council approval,

    However, Mayor O'Neill will not be presiding at the July 17 Council meeting. Vice Mayor Dan Baker (who's running for Mayor) is scheduled to chair the proceedings. Councilman Ray Grabinski (another announced Mayoral candidate) will (presumably) also be present.

    The incumbent Mayor, without Council challenge or objection, has asserted the right to control the audiovisual equipment under the Mayor's general Muni Code authority to control the City Council chamber during meetings. She has let city staff and some developers use the equipment without Council objection.

    City Attorney Shannon's memo text follows:

    Date: July 11, 2001

    To: Mayor and Members of the City Council

    From: Robert E. Shannon, City Attorney

    Subject: Use of City's Audio Visual Equipment

    This memo is intended to address certain issues which have arisen concerning the use of the City's audio visual equipment at the upcoming hearing on appeal from the Planning Commission approval of the proposed Scherer Park police substation. Initially, it should be noted that this is a formal administrative appeal to which the City and the appellants are parties. As such, it must be conducted in a manner consistent with all due process requirements.

    For the purposes of this hearing, the City Council sits as an independent decision maker, providing each party an equal opportunity ot present relevant evidence in support of its position. The manner in which the evidence is submitted is subject to reasonable limitations. However, those limitations must apply equally to all parties.

    As you know, it has been the position of the Mayor, with the concurrence of the City Council, that the public is not permited to use the City's audio visual equipment. We have in the past advised that the decision is within the discretion of the Mayor/City Council. Therfore, since the appellants will not be permitted to introduce evidence in this manner, the City is similarly prohibited from presenting any evidence through the use of its audio visual equipment.

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